Happy International Masturbation Month

For those of you who did not know, May is International Masturbation Month!  In honor of this holiday, this week’s sex-ceptional blog will provide you all with sorts of information regarding masturbation and International Masturbation Month!

This celebration came to be in 1995 after the San Francisco sex shop, Good Vibrations, responded to the firing of then-Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders.  Dr. Elders had been left go of her position as Surgeon General in part because of her support for including masturbation in youth sex education programs.  As many others, Good Vibrations was so frustrated that something so natural and common was deemed as something too disgusting to discuss in a sexual education program.  The holiday was created then in 1995 and has only gathered steam overtime - becoming an international event!

Firstly, masturbation is the stimulation of one’s own genitals for sexual pleasure.  Secondly, because masturbation is still such a taboo subject and many people lack education about masturbation, there are many myths regarding masturbation that remain highly prevalent, even today.  One is that masturbation is only for people who are single and/or who are not satisfied with their relationship.  In reality, many people masturbate regardless of whether they are sexually involved with another person or if they are in a fulfilling, committed relationship.  Another closely related myth is that if you masturbate or use a vibrator while in a committed relationship, you are “in the wrong” or could be considered cheating.  While everyone has differences in their comfort level in regards to how often or if their partner masturbates, masturbating does not have to equate to cheating.  It is very common and natural for people to masturbate within a committed relationship, and this does not necessarily mean that your partner is not attracted to you or is not confident about the success of your relationship.  If this is something that is an issue for you and your partner, I would highly suggest speaking with a couples counselor who is comfortable discussing sex and masturbation (much like myself).

Another common myth is that masturbation will cause damage to the genitals.  This one is completely false! Just as Psychology Today discussed in one of their blog posts, “your biggest risk is a little chafing of tender genital skin during extended masturbation sessions.” And, an easy solution for chafing is to utilize some type of lubricant, whether that be salvia or some type of over-the-counter lube (which I have done an entire blog post on). 

Another fairly popular myth about masturbation is that it can cause mental health problems.  While many people do harbor guilt or shame over their masturbation habits, this typically comes from an upbringing that has preached that masturbation is vile, unnatural, and perverted.  Masturbation is a very natural, healthy, and normal aspect of life and sexuality.  There are times that masturbation can become out of control sexual behavior; typically when done multiple times a day and/or interferes with one’s ability to live life the way in which they desire.  If this is something that you are concerned with, reach out to a mental health professional who has specific training in working with sexual issues (again, like myself).

The last myth that I want to address in this blog is the idea that people only get so many orgasms in their life, and if you masturbate you are using those up on yourself rather than sharing them with a partner.  This myth is completely false!!  There is no predetermined set of orgasms, nor is there a limit to how many you can have in one setting! You can literally have as many orgasms as you desire, regardless of whether you choose solo-sex or partnered sex!  Your genitalia will not fall off when you reach a magic number of orgasms.  This goes for both men and women.

There are actually a number of studied benefits to masturbation.  Dr. Ava Cadell, a clinical sexologist, reports that masturbation is a de-stressor and antidepressant because the release of endorphins that occurs during the process.  These endorphins flood the body and brain, boosting one’s mood in the process.  Masturbation can also help to improve sleep; especially for men because of the chemicals that help you get to sleep (oxytocin, vasopressin, and prolactin) are all released after ejaculation.  Other studied benefits of masturbation are: it reduces the risk of erectile dysfunction, it can help a man to last longer during sex, it can help to cure a cold, it prevents prostate cancer, it improves heart health, and it can increase your lifespan!

With so many benefits to masturbation, I hope you can carve out some time this month to celebrate the holiday!  If you desire more information about masturbation, either for yourself, your partner, or quickly aging adolescents, I would highly recommend reaching out to a mental health professional like myself or looking through the information provided on the Planned Parenthood website (link included below)!

Written by Katie Mitchell, M.A., LPC-Intern, Certified Sex Therapist-Candidate

Katie Mitchell is a counselor and Certified Sex Therapist-Candidate at Heights Family Counseling. She believes in using a solution-focused therapeutic approach to therapy, in order to empower clients to discover more effective solutions to their problems. Katie aims to foster a non-judgmental, accepting environment that helps clients to feel comfortable sharing their deepest thoughts and self-reflections. Katie enjoys working with a variety of clientele, such as individuals, couples, and families.  She also enjoys working with both individual and relational sexual concerns.  She understands that an active sex life is incredibly important for most individuals, especially those in a relationship. Learn more about Katie by visiting, https://heightsfamilycounseling.com/amy-rollo/, or learn more about our services at, https://heightsfamilycounseling.com/services/